I recently had the chance to spend four days in the ancient city of Girona. Nestled in the Northern region of Catalonia about an hour away from Barcelona, Girona represents an alternative to the rapid and modernised face of Spain.
The stunning 9th century AD walled fortification illustrates an independent lineage which runs through the people and the place, something which is alive today in the latest political fractures like the Catalan independence movement. The air is filled with a quietened revolutionary tension, as almost all of the beautiful facades in the old town brandish yellow ribbons and flags in solidarity with the Catalan people.
Despite this backdrop, I am keen to impress on anyone just how welcome I felt during our visit. We were four good friends who met together from afar. Madison, no stranger to this blog, had flown in from the States. Laura had journeyed from Switzerland and Celia had come from England. Celia sadly had to leave on my first day. As we stumbled along through broken Spanish in our interactions, we were greeted by nothing but patience and kindness.
We spent our days laughing, drinking far too much wine, eating some of the greatest pastries on planet earth and admiring the creativity on display around the city in the world renowned Girona Flower Festival.
In all, it was a joyous first experience of a country that I can see myself visiting again and again. Gracias España!
I just returned from spending a week in the French city of Nantes. I visited once before, right when I first started writing on this blog. When I was there three years ago, I vowed to return and spend more time.
During the course of this last week we became increasingly familiar with the streets of Nantes, and were more and more relaxed as a result. Figuring out how to use the trams played a great part in this.
The architecture of Nantes is fascinating, at once ancient and bright. With its pale stone walls, sunlight bounces off the buildings and lights up the streets below.
There is something amazing about the city, beyond it’s immediately tangible beauty. We saw, tasted and heard a different way of living. It is a place where whole families will happily sit in open restaurants on the street, at ten o’clock at night. Nothing is overtly alien, and yet a thousand small quirks add up to a unique place which needs to be experienced first hand.
Certainly, it is one of the most textured and culturally rich places I have been.
London is many things, light and dark. Perhaps nowhere else in England embodies the intersection between chaotic creation and destruction like this monolithic metropolis, that 8.6 million people call home.
There is something foreboding about London; to feel a little intimidated by ‘The Big Smoke’ is a sign of wisdom. The idea of London as the epicentre of historic dominion and oppression remains. You can very much feel the ghost of the terror and darkness that once inhabited the streets; lasting darkness of the kind immortalised in the poetry of William Blake. And everywhere little reminders lay, like the hopeless inequality which hangs heavy and leaden over this place. I have resisted London, although I cannot deny the cultural weight which is here.
In a city of such enormous contrast and energy, it felt right to take photos in black and white. My close friend William and I packed our bags, and set off into the mass.